Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Book signings, open readings, come and talk, buy books by sixteen local authors, and enjoy the weather with like-minded friends. 


Local novels, short story collections, art books & poetry will all be available. Buy Holiday gifts for your friends who "have everything" =:-) 

We plan to have open readings all day - anyone can "get in line" and read. Bring your best poem or story to share. No microphones, so prepare to be natural. 

The event is free, come for 10 minutes, or the full time. We have two more Meet Your Local Author events coming if you miss this one. Come join the fun!!! 


Friday, November 9, 2018

November 11 - Meet Your Local Writers!



Book signings, open readings, come and talk, buy books by twenty local authors, and enjoy the weather with like-minded friends. 



Local novels, short story collections, art books & poetry will all be available. Buy Holiday gifts for your friends who "have everything" =:-) 

We plan to have open readings all day - anyone can "get in line" and read. Bring your best poem or story to share. No microphones, so prepare to be natural. 

The event is free, come for 10 minutes, or the full time. We have two more Meet Your Local Author events coming if you miss this one. Come join the fun!!! 




Tobi Alfier - Is A Pantoum Always A Poem?

Think of this post as a Pantoum of sorts. You may know where you start, but you never know where you’re gonna end. Here we go…

Part I

My Grandpa Bernie and Grandma Ida, whose name really wasn’t Ida and we don’t know why, used to own a liquor store in San Pedro, across from the Todd Shipyards. After that, my Grandpa became a Cadillac brake repairman. This is such a coincidence because the Literary Journal my husband Jeff and I co-edit is San Pedro River Review. It is not named after California though, it is named after the river in Arizona. Still, Jeff spends a lot of time in his beloved San Pedro and Terminal Island. He even wrote a chapbook about it—Anthem for Pacific Avenue, published by Cowboy Buddha Publishing.

Tobi & Buick photo by Jeff
Jeff also loves old cars, Buicks and Cadillacs especially. He would have loved my Grandpa. I loved my Grandpa. He was dark-browed and handsome. I used to sit on his lap and pull his chest hair. He used to feed me bagels sent by Uncle Al in Miami, with cream cheese. Grandpa Bernie died when I was four and I’m now sixty. I still remember him. We all still remember him. I’m sorry Jeff never had a chance to meet him.

Part II

Shortly after my Grandpa died of leukemia, my family formed a charity that sponsors a researcher; right now they are funding research at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

They have one event every year – Secret Saturday. Two hundred people get on buses and go to secret places.

One year Jeff and I made a small chapbook for everyone with poems about grief and love, loss, beauty. The cover artwork was done by my Aunt, Debra Gordon. Aunt Debbie is one of Bernie and Ida’s youngest. She’s a beautiful artist (all of my book covers are either Debra’s art, or Jeff’s photography. I am a lucky, lucky poet!).

Part III

Every year Aunt Debbie and Uncle Edward make Thanksgiving for family and friends. This year they’re having 67 people.

art by Stefan Keller
One year they invited three Sumo Wrestlers we met at Secret Saturday. Deb made a HUGE pot of rice, just for them. I sat across from them. They were very young, very sweet, had no language and I loved them. I cannot begin to tell you how much they ate. They have to (I, on the other hand, have no excuse).

So there you go. It was quick, but we started with Grandpa Bernie and we’re ending (a couple weeks early) with my most heartfelt wish for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday—from my family to yours.

Please feel free to share your favorite Thanksgiving memories in the comment section below! I'd love to read them.

Note: A Pantoum is a poem. The form includes some repetition, so be sure to go back for seconds, and I’ll have an extra bite of mashed potatoes—just for you!!!!

*   *   *
Holiday Dinner
 
Dinner by Kehl Mack
Violets and sweet peas in small bulb-vases,
like two hands holding water, cupped
and nourishing. Tendrils gently easing
over the sides, the blooms almost
drooping with tender sweetness,
almost the same shade as candles

bought for the celebration,
blessed for the occasion.
Salt cellars tiny with their little spoons,
miniatures in hands large enough
to place entire salt licks for deer in fields
that border the farm. Pepper shakers

by every place, with two shakes worth
and no more. No one can slide their farmer-
thighs under the table but they try for the night
to match the gentle grace of the blooms,
and because it is so, they stretch for plates
full of holiday fare—

Meats redolent of fruit, baked to caramel, a meal
of decadence, wine, bread. They pray nothing
loses its way on the open-air journey
to sitting-far-back mouths, but that’s what the dog
is for, the dog who as a rule is usually locked
out back, peering in at the table like a thief.

They have said grace together, prayed individually,
caught the eye of loved ones, cringed at missteps
or a poorly-worded promise. Such is their holiday,
once a year, when the moon is high as vulnerability,
when they love with unwavering generosity,
go home with wholehearted relief.


Previously published in Homestead Review
- - - -

Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Tobi Alfier – When You’re Stuck

“Stuck” is not writer’s block. “Stuck” is when you’ve had a horrible week, you don’t want it to invade your poetry but you want to write. Five years from now, you don’t want to look back at your poem about jumping off a bridge and think “oh yeah, that was the week I fell twice, slammed my hair in the car door and got four rejections”. Nuts to that.

You don’t want to watch TV until you fall asleep, you want to write. Give yourself permission to try something different! You may surprise yourself. You will grow as a poet. You will take your mind off your anger/madness/sadness. And you will not drink all the bourbon!

Years ago I went to a reading by Beckian Fritz Goldberg at the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference at ASU. Holy cow!!! She read from her book The Book of Accident and her poems brought me to my knees. They were powerful. They used raw, nasty language, and they were absolutely great!! I bought that book immediately after the reading, and transcribed “Twentieth-CenturyChildren (5): Blood-Kissingwith just my thumbs into my phone. I sent it to my (now) husband. His reply? “Please get me a copy of the book tomorrow”.

I still say that Beckian Fritz Goldberg gives me permission to write brave. To say things I would normally never say. The first couplet of the poem I transcribed is “The boy in the girl’s ear says, Kiss me until/   you draw blood.” The poem ends “The way desire is—/   live rat sewed up inside us.”  The whole poem is scary, and great, and dang! If I could write like that, I’d forget EVERYTHING!

But do I write like that? No. Trying does take my mind off being stuck and cranky though.

Lately I have been captivated by the poetry of Chuka Susan Chesney. She has a way of writing that is well and beautifully thought out, but in ways I’ve never seen. I told her she writes like a Victorian Italian Carnival, which doesn’t even make sense, but it’s the only way I can describe her. You know if Peacock Journal has found her, her poetry and art is outstanding (ed note: a great sale on a beautiful copy of Peacock Journal you can hold in your hand right now - $2.54 per copy - you can even see me reading it on the sales page). Here is one of her more “sedate” poems:

Coffee with Jesus

Jesus drinking coffee
inside her heart,
camellias reach,
embracing the barreled ceiling with
mystery. The cups
line up with the
sandwich plates; and
she, a stranger, looks on as
Picasso’s dove
flies blithely through the kitchen window,
sent and invited.

Patterns waltzing with the sunlight
flutter above their heads,
starfish spin in tight circles,
adorning the room with Byzantine
heraldry. The dishwasher
hums itself to sleep; and
she, a stranger, wearing a white robe,
floats sublimely through the air,
blessed and beloved.

originally appeared in Peacock Journal

Almost without realizing it, I have found myself writing—still like me—but incorporating words in ways I never would have before. There is a wacky exuberance to Susan’s writing. I feel in my heart that she must wake up every day and turn pirouettes on her way to brush her teeth. I can’t explain it.

Another thing to try when you’re feeling stuck, but you definitely want to write, is a new form. I love Pantoums. The form isn’t hard to remember, but I have to look it up every time I write one at Poetry Net. You never know where they’re going to lead you. You’ll be so enthralled by the journey, you’ll forget you feel like hell. When the form doesn’t work, which happens to me all the time, “un-Pantoum” it and make it a regular poem.

Pantoum Gone Wrong

I will take a vodka tonic and some chips.
Please tell me that my smile lights up the sky.
Make me blush and make me think of you
even if tomorrow I’ll be asking myself why
and kicking myself for being so stupid.

I will know you are lying but believe you anyway.
I will only halfway question your motives and sincerity.
Wearing my heart with longing for our conversations
I will look for you, and I will find you.

It makes me want to taunt you and test you,
all the time my leg inching closer to yours.
I flirt with an eye to mapping your limitations,
my agenda is one of maximum sensations—I
don’t even know if you have an agenda.

A kiss in the old days was a ticket to freedom.
Now most encounters lead to a chasm
of disappointment and emptiness.
Lord knows, I carry my own share of baggage,
disheveled and dangerous, I order another drink.

Please find me beautiful, I have a passion for you.
Make me blush, and make me think of you fondly.
Lord knows I carry my own share of baggage
so I will settle for vodka tonic and chips.


appeared originally in Hot Metal Press (permanently closed)

So try a new form and do keep your eyes out for Chuka Susan Chesney. She has poems and art in Peacock Journal, Inklette Magazine, Claudius Speaks, and Rogue Agent Literary Journal, and her art graces the cover of Issue #13 of Picaroon Poetry. She will make you smile. Your Pantoums will take you strange and wonderful places. You’ll totally forget that the fog kept you from seeing the meteor shower, your house is freezing, a raccoon came in through the doggie door and ate all your dog’s food…and all the other junk that can make you stuck—will just disappear!
- - - -

Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Nov 3 - Meet Your Local Authors!


Book signings, open readings, come and talk, buy books by over a dozen local authors, enjoy the weather with like-minded friends. 

Local novels, short story collections, art books & poetry will all be available. Buy Christmas gifts for your friends who "have everything" because few people have a good collection of books by local authors =:-) 

We plan to have open readings all day. Note that the open readings will go on all day - anyone can "get in line" and read. Bring your best poem or story to share. No microphones, so be prepared to be natural. 

The event is free, come for 10 minutes, or the full time. We have three more Meet Your Local Author events coming if you miss this one. 

Good times! 

November Schedule!!! Meet Your Local Writers =:-)




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New Book! After The War, The Women Spoke by Katia Aoun Hage


The words in this volume reach to the deepest part of the souls of the strongest participants in all war - the women. This is a collection of art and poetry created by Katia Aoun Hage which will enhance humanity's grasp of both the true impact and the only real heroes of war - unarmed women and children. 

Speak my soul
of the ebbs and tides
of that deep ocean
where you live in.

My ears long for your truths
my heart opens up
to let you in
my womb feels
your gracefulness.

Let your words
reveal the purpose
of a life
longing to be whole.


We encourage our neighbors to buy Cholla Needles books at Rainbow Stew, Space Cowboy, and Raven's Books. Support our local distributors!